Power of a smile

Flex those facial muscles—it’s good for your well-being!


On my desk sits a photo of a young boy, Logan, 7, who is on a promotional card for OneBlood, thanking blood donors for keeping him alive. I don’t know Logan, but I’ve kept his picture around simply because I love his wide, infectious, toothy smile. His adorable expression always makes me grin.

Children smile an average of 400 times daily, according to researchers; the typical adult smiles only 20 times per day. Maybe we should be more like kids since scientists say smiling is a natural anti-depressant that can boost your mood, strengthen your immune system, and reduce overall blood pressure and stress.

Here are more tidbits about the power of a smile:

British researchers found that one smile generates the same level of brain stimulation as receiving about $25,000 in cash or up to 2,000 bars of chocolate.

Smiling is beneficial on a cellular level, according to biochemist Sondra Barrett. In her book, “Secrets of Your Cells,” she says smiling reduces the rigidness of cells, and this physical relaxation helps nix the risk of stress-induced cell mutations that may lead to the development or persistence of various cancers.

Wayne State University researchers looked into pre-1950s baseball cards of Major League players and found players who didn’t smile in their pictures lived an average of 72.9 years, where players with smiles lived almost 80 years.

Using 3-D ultrasound technology, scientists found developing babies appear to smile, even in the womb. When they’re born, babies continue to smile, mostly in their sleep.

A study in the journal Neuropsychologia reports that seeing an attractive, smiling face activates your orbitofrontal cortex, the region in your brain that processes sensory rewards. This suggests when you view a person smiling, you actually feel rewarded.

Smilers are not only regarded as more likable, courteous, and attractive, but appear more competent and youthful, a Penn State University study says. The muscles used to smile also lift the face and make a person appear younger.

Get ready to flex those smile muscles Oct. 5—World Smile Day—which is celebrated the first Friday of October. The holiday was created by Harvey Ball, who developed the iconic yellow smiley face in 1963. Harvey’s goal was to improve the world one smile at a time.